~ o ~ O ~ o ~
It hit him hard, and the ruby eyed teen knew it the instant he woke up with a scratchy throat and watery, sleep filled eyes. He just wasn't used to this weird, erratic weather. Even after 3000 years his body was still conditioned for the constant warm, dry Egyptian climate. But here in Japan it was almost winter and getting colder by the day. The tired teen sleepily rubbed at his eyes and stretched - feeling as though there was a two ton weight on his chest - trying to pull himself together enough to make it out of bed…
Atemu cursed mentally as he suddenly coughed up a gob of something that he would rather not have to explain to anyone. Racing to the bathroom as fast as his slender legs could carry him, he made it just in time to retch up what was left of his dinner from the night before, which was absolutely nothing. The effort left him shaken and unable to catch his breath.
"Yami, are you okay?" Yugi called sleepily from their bedroom across the hall.
Shit, he must have woken his little one with all the noise he was making. "I'm fine Aibou." Atemu called out hoarsely - after dry heaving for a third time. The force of the action sent him to his knees, tiny pinpricks of light hovering at the edge of his vision.
Yugi's sleep tousled head appeared in the doorway, giving Atemu the impression of a drowsy angel with the light from their room glowing over his head like a halo - as the taller teen looked up from where he was kneeling unsteadily on the floor of the darkened bathroom.
Of course, the once Pharaoh always thought his Aibou was an angel, from the tips of his wild tricolor hair to the bottom of his size seven feet. The boy was perfection with his petite height and slender build. But the look in his large amethyst eyes was nowhere near angelic, as the small teen glared harshly at his dark half.
"No you're not."
Yugi padded softly into the bathroom to crouch next to the ailing teen. Placing a gentle hand on his darkness's head, one touch was all it took for him to figure out what was bothering the other teen. "You're burning up! Come on, do you think you can make it back to your bed…never mind, I'll help you."
Not giving Atemu a chance to respond, the small teen slung his arm around his older look-alike's waist and escorted him back to his bed. Atemu gave a long suffering groan when his sore, tired body hit the bed, Yugi covering him up with his blankets. The petite, amethyst eyed duelist rolled his eyes at the other's behavior.
His dark half had a tendency to push himself to the point of exhaustion. And that was more than likely the biggest contributor to his being sick now - he just didn't know when to quit.
Technically it was the former Pharaoh's first winter as a physical entity in the twenty-first century. The final duel had been held a little over five months ago, Yugi being the victor - Atemu conceding defeat for the first time in his existence. It was a humbling experience for the former King of Games.
The former Pharaoh had been resigned to moving on to the afterlife. But a tearful plea from his Aibou, begging for him to stay, tore at his emotions too much for him to even consider leaving. He loved the boy too much to disappoint him. And even though his feelings for the petite teen that had rescued him from the shadows were a well-kept secret, Atemu couldn't help but hope that maybe, if he stuck around, Yugi would return them someday.
So together, the twin-esque game kings asked the gods for Atemu to return to live out his life with Yugi. And the permission was granted, much to both boys' delight.
"I'll be right back, I'm gonna go get Grandpa. He'll know what to do." Yugi said softly, coming back from his bed with yet another blanket, which he added to the growing pile on top of his ailing darkness.
"I'll be fine little one; there is no need to fuss over me." Atemu protested feebly, attempting to lift himself from the cocoon that the boy had made around his freezing body.
The effort proved too much, as harsh coughing wracked his frame, allowing Yugi to easily push him back down against his pillow. But Atemu wasn't done yet, as he attempted to make it back out from under the blankets. After all, it was his turn to watch the shop. And the former Pharaoh took that duty very seriously. It was the only way he could even think of repaying Yugi and his grandfather for their hospitality.
His college courses didn't help to pay the bills, only adding to their financial state. But Solomon had long ago sworn that his family would go to college, and the old man had always considered Atemu part of their small, happy family. The former Pharaoh was bound and determined to live up to the man's expectations.
Yugi continued to fight with him until he was too worn out to resist.
"You'll stay right where you are. And I won't take no for an answer. If I find you've moved so much as an inch, I'll make you wish I never solved that puzzle." The small teen threatened, inclining his head towards the puzzle that was hanging on the bed post.
Atemu gave a weak shake of his head, sliding back under the covers to glance at the puzzle with a shaky smile. "If you say so Aibou…"
"I say so." The smaller teen's tone left no room for argument.
With one last glare at the sick teen, Yugi turned and bolted out the door and down the stairs, in search of his grandpa – and a bucket. The small teen knew how stubborn his darker half could be, and he didn't trust him to stay put for any extended length of time. He needed reinforcements, and quickly.
When the gods granted Atemu another life, they let the two of them keep the puzzle as a sort of memento from their adventures together. As far as either of them knew, its power was lost. But neither of them wanted to give it to a museum or private collector. It held too much sentimental value for them to part with it. So there it hung, on the end of Atemu's bed – as a reminder of who he truly was, and how much he owed this one small, angelic being.
Atemu mused hazily on his hidden feelings for the small, tricolor haired teen. To him, Yugi was everything. And he would do anything to keep the boy safe, and happy. It was just his luck that he would have to do it as a friend, rather than a lover, for Yugi had accepted a date with Anzu not long ago, and he couldn't help but think that there was something going on between the two teens.
Well, if he had to suffer silently, then so be it. The once Pharaoh wouldn't burden his Aibou with his feelings if he felt for another. It was enough for him to just be a part of the boy's life. Atemu groaned weakly, closing his eyes against another wave of nausea. This sickness was beginning to grate on his last nerve.
"So, I hear you're not feeling so hot." Solomon Motou poked his head inside the door.
Atemu sneezed a couple of times before another fit of coughing over took him, leaving the teen breathless and unable to answer the elder man.
"Bless you!" The old man made his way into the boys' room, brandishing a thermometer, which he promptly stuffed into Atemu's mouth. "That sounds pretty nasty! I figured this might happen. You push yourself too hard Atemu, don't give yourself time to rest."
He peered down at Atemu from over his reading glasses, touching the teen's forehead gently with a cool hand. Atemu bit back a moan at the soothing touch, the cool contrast almost pleasant against his raging fever. The thermometer beeped and Solomon pulled it out to check the reading.
"You're not moving out of this bed for the rest of the weekend young man. You've probably just got a touch of the flu. It's been going around lately. Just rest, its all you can do."
"But I have to…"
Solomon leveled a glare at the stubborn teen. "You don't have to do anything but rest. If I catch you out of that bed, I'll take away your gaming privileges."
Any thought of protest died on Atemu's lips after that threat. Playing games with his Aibou was the only time that they really got to spend together. It was the time when they talked, in between laying down a card, or moving a piece on the game board. It was how they kept in touch throughout their busy days. To lose that would be…well, it would be awful.
"I got some aspirin, a wet cloth and a bucket Grandpa." Yugi walked through the door carrying a small bucket with a little water at the bottom of it in one hand and a bottle of Advil in the other, the washcloth balanced carefully over the side of the bucket.
Solomon smiled at his grandson. "Well, I guess you got it all taken care of Yugi. I'll let you take care of him this weekend. I've got a shop to run. I'll check on you boys later. Okay?" The old man headed for the door as Yugi called out a quick okay
Turning back to his patient, the small teen set the bucket down on the floor beside the bed and helped the other to sit up so he could take the aspirin. "Why don't you go back to sleep for a while. I'm gonna read for a few," helping to settle the sick teen back under the blankets after he was finished.
Atemu nodded tiredly through his cocoon before he drifted quickly off into a dreamless sleep. His last thought before settling into unconsciousness was that maybe he could use some rest.
Gazing down at his secret love, Yugi brushed a lock of blonde hair from the sick teen's face, marveling at the soft texture. He finally had Yami all to himself for the weekend. This was a first. Usually their group would hang out, or the older teen would be working in the game shop, or doing his homework for his classes.
They very rarely hung out anymore, just the two of them. He hated for his darkness to be sick like this, but getting to spend the weekend together, just the two of them, was something Yugi was looking forward to.
Yugi wandered over to the bookcase in the corner of the room he shared with his darkness; selecting one of the well-worn books before pulling a chair up to sit beside the sick teen's bed. Once he was comfortable, he picked up the damp washcloth and placed it on Atemu's head, smiling at the small noise that the other teen made in his sleep, as he studied the sleep softened features.
His darkness always looked so young, so innocent when he slept. When he was awake, the royal teen was absolutely stunning with his intense ruby eyes, and his chiseled, angular face - his dark skin tone only serving to complement those beautiful, soul searching eyes. But when he was relaxed in sleep, with those long, black lashes laying softly against his skin, those were the times that Yugi loved watching him the most.
Yugi had been in love with his darkness since he first found out about him. But the smaller teen would never think of forcing his feelings on the other, knowing that his darkness didn't think of him as any more than a friend, someone to look after. It was the one reason Yugi had accepted the date with Anzu. To take his mind off those painful, unreturned feelings. But it was nice to dream about it.
The small teen shook his head with a whimsical smile, before turning to the book in his hands. James Patterson, his favorite author. Yugi loved how the characters were brought to life within the torn and tattered pages of the books his grandfather gave him. He settled in to his reading, stopping every once in a while to flip the washcloth that he had set on his darkness' head, briefly checking him over before going back to the book. The poor guy was out cold.
Atemu slept throughout the day, occasionally shifting and muttering in his sleep, Yugi never leaving his spot by the bed. At five o'clock Solomon came in to check on the boys, telling Yugi that he would watch over the sick teen – that he needed to eat dinner.
The smaller teen made himself walk away to get some food. He truly didn't want to leave his darkness' side, but he was getting hungry. After a quick bowl of his grandfather's home made chicken noodle soup, he dashed back upstairs with a mug of soup for his ailing darkness.
"Thank you Yugi. I was going to set a cup up here for him when he woke up. Now I don't have to. Did anyone ever tell you that you would make a good doctor? So many of them now lack the compassion that should come with working around people." Solomon grumbled, complimenting the boy's caring nature.
Yugi blushed scarlet, looking at his feet, not quite knowing what to say to the comment. His grandfather rarely ever complimented anyone. Thankfully the teen didn't have a chance to make a reply, as the old man quietly left the room to get some food for himself.
With a sigh of happiness, Yugi settled back into the chair and opened his book to the page he was reading before being called to dinner, unaware of the alert ruby eyes that were taking in his every move.
Atemu woke to the one sided conversation between Yugi and his grandfather. He smiled lightly at the comment, knowing it to be the truth. His little one was so caring that it sometimes got him into trouble, but the former spirit of the puzzle wouldn't change a thing.
It was just one of the many facets of the boy's personality that he cared strongly about. Yugi was such a complex person; Atemu doubted that he had seen every side to his young light. There were always more layers hidden beneath the bright, smiling face that he adored…
"Hey…you're awake. I brought some soup up with me, would you like some." Yugi's soft voice brought Atemu out of his thoughts.
"Thank you. That would be nice." Atemu responded with a slight smile.
Accepting the smaller teen's help, he made himself comfortable, sitting up against a mound of pillows to take the offered cup of warm soup. The first sip felt like heaven, warming his insides and chasing away the chill that was controlling his body. Thankfully he didn't feel as nauseous as he had this morning.
As soon as he was finished with his meal, Atemu gave his cup back to the boy who was watching over him. They talked for a couple of minutes about what they were going to do tomorrow, as it was Sunday and neither of them had any plans. It wasn't too long before Atemu began to feel drowsy, and a large yawn refused to remain buried behind his hand, another coughing attack following closely on its heels.
Against the taller teen's protests, Yugi pushed him back under the covers and gently placed the newly rinsed washcloth back over his head, telling him it was time to go back to sleep if they wanted to do anything in the morning. Finally Atemu gave into the boy's demands, but he had a price for his compliance.
"Only if you crawl in here with me and keep me company." He pouted sleepily.
Yugi could feel the heat rush to his face at the comment. Did his darkness not know what he was doing to him with his request? Probably not. Shrugging aside his feelings, the small teen climbed into bed, cuddling up close to his darker half as the other teen pulled him up against his body. He felt so warm and protected in the embrace, if only they were more than just friends.
Feeling comfortable with his secret love wrapped up in his arms, Atemu drifted off into a calm, peaceful sleep, his body not nearly as chilled as it was earlier.
~ o ~ O ~ o ~
The next morning made itself apparent to the two teens as lightning lit up the whole house, the thunder coming on its heels shaking the ground. Atemu groaned, squinting in the aftermath of such a bright light. He peered out of the cocoon of blankets that he and Yugi were cuddled under, taking in the fact that it was still quite dark outside. The pattering sound of sleet hit the windows with a quiet rhythm.
"What time is it?" Yugi stretched, stifling a yawn with his hand.
Atemu glanced over at the alarm clock on the bedside table. "It's seven in the morning Aibou. It's still early."
"Mm-hm." Yugi commented before rolling over and closing his eyes again, snuggling up against the other's warmth. He was used to the odd thunderstorm in the late fall. But as much as he loved it, his darker half was right, it was still early…
They both woke a couple of hours later to the unnatural brightness of a cloudy fall sky peeking in through a hole in the closed curtains. Yugi stretched, mumbling a good morning as Atemu climbed slowly out of bed. The taller teen didn't make it very far before landing on his rear on the floor, his body still weak from the episode yesterday.
"Ow." Atemu hissed as he rubbed the offended area. He felt vaguely disoriented and the weak feeling was starting to irritate him greatly. Never could he remember feeling as pathetic as he did at this moment. He could feel the oncoming headache pounding behind his eyes.
Yugi peered over the edge of the bed with a grin. "Well, you just don't know when to quit, do you? You're still sick, even if you don't feel it. But no…you just had to get up like you do every morning and rush right into life."
Atemu grinned up at him lazily, his mood improving vastly under the petite teen's bright smile. "Yeah, well you know me. I hate being inactive. It drives me crazy."
Climbing gracefully off the bed, Yugi extended his hand to the teen on the floor. "You're crazy anyways. Come on, let's go get some breakfast."
Rolling his eyes playfully, Atemu took the offered hand, using it to pull himself up off the floor, steadfastly ignoring the irritating dizziness. Together, the two of them made their way down the stairs in search of food. It didn't take long for Atemu's weakness to sneak up on him again. He barely made it down the stairs and he had to sit down, before he fell. It was just his luck that Solomon was downstairs, in the kitchen, making breakfast, and had heard all the commotion on the stairway.
In the end, Atemu was ordered back into bed for the rest of the day. Yugi trailed along behind him, laughing at the pout that had settled on his darkness' face when he was told to stay in bed. The smaller teen mused on the other's attitude with a quiet chuckle.
It was true, Atemu absolutely hated to be idle. Even when he was nothing more than a spiritual being, he had always been active. Yugi could attest to that, having been woken up many times to the mental sound of Atemu pacing back and forth in his soul room, wandering the endless corridors and stairways, searching for answers to questions about his mysterious past.
And now that the royal teen was a physical entity, the need to move was even worse. For the life of him, Yugi couldn't remember a time when Atemu wasn't in motion, unless he was sleeping - and even then the taller teen would wake up every morning hopelessly tangled in his covers. To Yugi it was amazing how one person could have that much pent up energy, yet look so calm, so totally regal while he constantly moved about.
After ensuring that Atemu made it to his bed, with a minor detour involving the bathroom and a couple of toothbrushes, Yugi made his way back downstairs to gather their breakfast. It hadn't taken but a few minutes, but by the time he made it back up to their room, the other teen was already fast asleep, lying on top of his covers.
Yugi grinned at the sight, before quietly setting the tray down on the nightstand to tuck his darkness back under his blankets. He smoothed a stray lock of hair out of Atemu's face, just wishing that he were the one that the exotic teen was in love with. The one that would make those gorgeous ruby eyes light up with devotion and adoration. But it was just not meant to be.
Without even realizing what he was doing, Yugi leaned in and brushed his lips against Atemu's softly before pulling away, licking his lips for the slightest taste. It wasn't enough. He moved back in, intending only on another quick kiss, never noticing the arms that tightened around him to pull him down on top of the supposedly sleeping teen.
Atemu felt something soft and light press up against his lips. He knew exactly who it was; having heard Yugi's near silent entrance earlier and the idea of it thrilled him right down to his toes. Without thinking, he wrapped his arms around the culprit, pulling him down and into another, more passionate kiss. As soon as he heard the gasp of surprise, he reached out to taste the treasure that had fallen into his lap, molding his lips to Yugi's as his tongue reached out to draw Yugi's up against it.
This had to be a dream! Yami was kissing him back…wait! What? Yugi pulled quickly back out of the embrace, his face scarlet. Without even giving his darkness a chance to say boo, the small teen fled out of the room and down the steps. How could he? Yami was still sick!
"Aibou, wait!" Atemu attempted to follow his lighter half, only to end up on the floor for a second time that day, his legs entangled in the blankets. Kicking at the bunched up material, he struggled to his feet.
"I'll be back in a few Grandpa!" Yugi shouted as he snatched up his shoes and bolted out the door. There was no way he could face his darkness right now, not after what he had attempted to do. His behavior was inexcusable.
Atemu flew out of the bedroom and down the stairs in an effort to try and catch his little one before he could make it out the door. He tripped on the third step, rolling and landing halfway down the stairs, to slide to the bottom. He quickly realized that Yugi had already made it out the door before he had even reached the top of the stairs. So much for that bright idea.
"What the hell? Didn't I tell you to stay in bed?" Solomon came out from the living room to see what all the noise was. His stern gaze softened when he spied Atemu lying at the foot of the stairs, his head in his hands.
"Are you okay?" The older man rushed to his adopted grandson's aid.
After being told, politely, that he was alright, Solomon helped the dark teen to stand, thinking that he would be able to coax him back up to bed. No such luck. The former spirit was nothing if not tenacious.
Finally, after arguing for a few minutes, Solomon gave in, allowing Atemu to wait in the living room for Yugi to return. It was a better idea than what Atemu had in mind. There was no way he was going to allow the teen out of the house in the condition that he was in. The idea was ludicrous.
~ o ~ O ~ o ~
"Hey…isn't that…" The driver nudged his companion as their delivery van passed a small teen who was walking on the sidewalk, his head down. The boy glanced up once to check his surroundings before looking back down at his shoes, lost in thought.
The other man glanced behind them to get a better look at the person in question, catching sight of wide, tearful amethyst eyes before they were turned once again to the ground. "Holy hell, that's that little shit my girls idolize. Yugi whatever his name is. Damn, and here I thought he only looked small on TV! He's tiny."
"Yeah, but he sure is a looker! Did'jya see them eyes? I'm bettin' they'd go nuts over that." The first said with a smirk.
Can't man. Do you know what my girls would do to me if they found out? They'd have me drawn and quartered for even thinking it." The other shook his head.
"Tough shit! They should be idolizing you, not some punk kid with funky hair. And besides, it's not like they'd ever know. I'm not lettin' this one go. This'll be good payoff." The first man turned the wheel on the van, ducking around the corner, not even giving the other man a chance to protest his actions. This was just too good of a chance to pass up.
The two men continued to argue the situation as they sat in the van, waiting for their target to approach. Eventually, the driver managed to persuade his passenger to his way of thinking. As the boy drew closer, they slowly got out of the van and into position.
Stupid! Walking aimlessly through town, Yugi mentally kicked himself. He couldn't believe that he had actually kissed his darkness. What the hell had been going through his mind, to do something like that?
It wasn't like him to try and force his feelings on another, especially when they were unable to defend themselves. And at the moment, Yami was exactly that. He was sick! It was inexcusable! The other teen was not in his right mind!
The diminutive teen continued his walk around their neighborhood, berating himself repeatedly for his earlier actions. After an hour of trying to walk out his frustrations, trying to decide what to do, large drops of sleet began to fall from the sky, soaking his scant clothing, reminding him that it was cold out. What a time to forget his winter coat! It was time to go home and face up to what he had done earlier, no matter the consequences.
Would Yami hate him? The small teen just had to know, he couldn't stand the suspense any longer. As Yugi rounded the corner on his trip back to the game shop, he didn't even see the hands that reached out to him, a white cloth held firmly in their grip…
~ o ~ O ~ o ~
Where is he? Atemu thought, starting to get agitated. Two hours had flown by since Yugi left the house. He wouldn't be gone this long. Not in this weather, it was beginning to storm yet again. The former Pharaoh put his feet over the side of the couch, intending on getting up.
"I thought I told you to stay put! Yugi will come back on his own Atemu. He's fine." Solomon spied the teen from the corner of his eyes as he attempted to make a break for it.
Atemu sighed loudly before resigning himself to waiting for his Aibou to come home from wherever it was he was hiding. And the taller teen was certain that the boy was hiding from what had happened earlier. Maybe he should have just pretended to be asleep. But he couldn't have done that, not even on a bet. Just to know that the small teen he was in love with had even the remotest of feelings for him, he couldn't just do nothing.
The wait seemed indefinite as a storm brewed outside, lightning flashing like it had earlier in the morning. This was so unlike Yugi. Atemu hoped his little one was safe, maybe at Jou's house, or even Ryou's. The dark teen began to fidget, holding back his coughing to the best of his ability.
"I'm gonna call Jou…see if Yugi's there."
Atemu's eyes lit up. Thank god, the old man had read his mind. Solomon walked out into the kitchen, to make his phone call, leaving Atemu by himself in the living room. The former Pharaoh wasted no time in standing up to stretch his weak, sore body. He took a couple of tentative steps to test his endurance, before making his way slowly into the kitchen, too concerned to remain idle.
"Yes Ryou…no, he hasn't come home yet. Thank you anyways." Solomon said politely as he returned the cordless phone to the base. "No one's seen him today. I called Jou first, he was still sleeping. Ryou just got home himself." The old man looked up worriedly at Atemu as he reached into the desk drawer to pull out the phone book.
By that time Atemu already had his boots on, and was making his way out the door. "I'm going to go find him."
Solomon humphed at him. "You're sick enough! I don't need you getting any worse, Yugi'll kill me!"
Atemu turned around to stare incredulously at the man.
"I don't care. At least he will be home." He snapped, continuing out the door and into the cold rain, forgetting his jacket in his haste.
Once outside, it finally occurred to Atemu that he had nowhere to look. It wasn't like he could just contact his Aibou through their mind link anymore, it didn't exist. The former Pharaoh wrapped his arms around himself and hurried through the pouring sleet as fast as his lethargic body could go, searching for any sign of his little one. The boy had to be here somewhere, it wasn't like he could just vanish off the face of the earth – could he?
An hour later and Atemu wasn't so certain about that thought. He had seen nothing that could point him in the boy's direction. Thinking that maybe Yugi had returned home, the dark teen headed in the direction of the game shop. He had looked over almost the entire neighborhood, and there was no sign of the bright, smiling person that he'd come to adore.
Two blocks from the game shop, Atemu happened to see a single shoe, looking innocent as it lay in a puddle by the side of the road. He picked up his pace, hoping against hope that that particular shoe didn't belong to who he thought it did. Once he made it to the shoe, the dark teen dropped to his knees, panting and out of breath. Cautiously, he reached out and picked up the unassuming object, another fit of coughing taking over his body.
A tear slipped down his face before he could stop it. He knew this shoe, every morning before they made their way to the bus stop; Yugi would slip this shoe on, grumbling about how tight it was. Atemu would laugh at him and tell him to untie his shoes before attempting to put them on. To which the small teen would pout, until he finally managed to wiggle his foot into the shoe and bolt out the door.
Barely managing to catch his breath, Atemu stood up and ran down the street, heedless of his debilitating bouts of coughing as he searched frantically for the missing teen.
~ o ~ O ~ o ~